THE ONLINE INVENTOR -- December 2000

(c) 2000 Market Launchers, Inc.


Publisher:  Paul Niemann



"They can because they think they can," Vergil

"One man with courage makes a majority," Andrew Jackson

"There's no thrill in easy sailing when the skies are clear and blue, there's no joy in merely doing things which any one can do. But there is some satisfaction that is mighty sweet to take, when you reach a destination that you thought you'd never make," Spirella


In this issue:

Article # 1:    "Inventor Profile: BARRY STUECKER -- Inventor of the BUZZ BULB," by Paul Niemann

Article # 2:    "Generating Publicity in Year 2001," by Todd F. Brabender, President of Spread The News PR

Article # 3:    "Your Market Evaluation," by Bob Stonecypher, Author of "THE IDEA"


Article # 1:    "Inventor Profile: BARRY STUECKER -- Inventor of the BUZZ BULB," by Paul Niemann

EDITOR'S NOTE:    The following Inventor Profile is in a "question & answer" format between The Online Inventor and Barry Stuecker:

What kind of sales figures have you had over the last 11 years that you've been selling the BUZZBULB?
60,000 units over 11 years; including 35,000 - 40,000 units over the last 10 years which came from a catalog called Northern Tool & Equipment.

What kind of sales figures did you have in the first year or two?
We only had handmade units at first. We took it Target and Home Depot. The buyers thought it was a great idea, so that gave us the encouragement we needed. People were buying motion-detectors for security. I realized the need for a safer product; one that was UL-listed.

How did you come up with the idea for the BUZZBULB?
To prevent any possible break-ins between my house and my grapevines. There was a 3-foot space where strangers could come through.

What kind of industry research did you do? At what point did you do it?
We talked to electricians and managers of electrical departments in places like Home Depot, who said that people were coming in to ask for similar (motion detector) devices. 30% of the people who bought motion detection lights were buying it for a deterrent. But the motion detectors offered no protection during the day, so I asked if there was away to make a device which makes noise to signal an intruder. The BUZZBULB does just that; in fact, it gives off 98 decibels at 10 feet with a total outdoor range of 75-100 feet, similar to the amount of noise a smoke detector makes. The BUZZBULB does not produce light.

At what stage did you file for a patent?
I did a patent search when my wife and I visited my parents in Washington, DC, and I applied for a patent while we were there. I was trying to find a manufacturer at the time.

What kind of customer research did you do, and at what stage did you do it?
We just talked to customers of motion detector lights and asked them if they would like the idea of turning it into a 24-hour alarm, with a light and sound alarm.

Have you received much media attention for the BUZZBULB?

MAGAZINES: American How-To, Family Handyman, Security Distribution.
TV: The Next Step, which focuses on innovative products, Channel 3 (ABC) in Phoenix, the "What's New?" program (which is similar to The Next Step).
NEWSPAPERS: Phoenix Republic.
RADIO: The Handyman Show (syndicated).

How did you finance the whole process?
From friends & family.

What obstacles did you encounter along the way?
There was not much of an obstacle in getting the patent. The patent issued in 6 months because a retired patent claims judge re-wrote the claims for us. Lucky break there.
The whole process of getting UL-listed cost between $5,000 - $6,000.
The biggest hurdle is marketing. It was the most expensive, too. Fortunately, we avoided the firms that wanted money up-front, but we did pay $2,500 to have a TV commercial produced. We own both the 30-second and 60-second commercial spots.

What was the highest point for you?
The highest point was when we started getting into the mail-order catalogs. And the public response was excellent at the invention trade shows.
The Popular Science ad led to getting a huge order from one electronics (RAB -- Richard A. Burns) catalog -- 1,500 so far. He told him that it should do even better than the Clapper.

Did you ever feel like giving up along the way?
Oh, yeah. Especially when dealing with the companies that assemble / manufacture them. That was the worst part.

What did you do right?
I pursued the idea because I realized that there was a need for it. A crime involving a blind lady victim helped me realize the need for it.

Explain what steps you took in the marketing of the BUZZBULB. Did you use any marketing agents, or did you do it all yourself? Where have you advertised?
I advertised on the Market Launchers web site and I also worked with Jim Tilberry of Tilberry Direct Marketing. We get a lot of response from being on your site, especially people who want to become distributors.

How did you get retail stores to carry the BUZZBULB? What kind of response did you get from them?
That's the biggest hurdle, and the biggest headache. It was a situation where we had a positive expectations, but a negative reality. We're mainly in local hardware stores -- most of our sales are from catalogs.

Do you have any other products that you've created and are currently working on?
Our own motion-detector fixture. That takes additional capital, though, and right now, BUZZBULB takes up all of my time.

Any final words of advice or suggestions for other inventors?
Hang in there, be honest and avoid making any claims that aren't true.

Any other comments or results that your customers have noticed from the BUZZBULB?
One lady called and said that when she heard it go off, she saw some people running away.

In another case, a deer was eating corn outside of the BUZZBULB's pattern, but not within the pattern. So animals avoid the BUZZBULB.

Security is the lowest-rated segment on QVC; people don't want to think about it unless they were just broken into. So selling a security item on the home shopping channels can be tough.

It also keeps deer and other animals out of the garbage AND out of the garden -- it's the only thing that does work.

# # # #

The BUZZBULB can be seen at http://www.marketlaunchers.com/stuecker.html and at www.BuzzBulb.com. Order the BUZZBULB for $29.95 by going to www.BUZZBULB.com or calling their order line at (602) 273-0692.

If you have a product which you think would sell well in catalogs, then you might want to contact Jim Tilberry:

Tilberry Direct Marketing
1749 Golf Rd.; Suite # 310
Mt. Prospect, IL 60056

Phone: 847-690-0670
Fax: 847-690-0671
E-mail: [email protected]

Jim Tilberry has been putting inventors' new products into major catalogs for over 12 years now, and has more than 80 major catalog accounts.


Article # 2:    "Generating Publicity in Year 2001," by Todd F. Brabender, President of Spread The News PR

Chances are you've spent the time and money to ride the technology tidal wave to build your product or business thus far. So why not continue to ride that wave in your publicity practices. Don't pull your technologically advanced, state-of-the-art buggy with a rickety old donkey!

The days of mass-mailing hundreds or even thousands of media releases have passed -- although you'd be amazed at how many companies are still using, shall we say "traditional" practices only when it comes to their publicity pitches. In my professional opinion, EVERY business, inventor or entrepreneur can increase the chances of traditional and online media exposure by following a few technological tips:


The number of online news services and Internet news sites has increased more than twofold in the last 2 years. In addition to dozens of online outlets, hundreds of traditional media outlets now have websites and separate online staffs seeking newsworthy information to attract traffic to their sites -- which helps increase ad rates on the site. It's a wonderfully reciprocal relationship that can play right into your publicity plans. Pitch basically as you would the mainstream media, but with an online slant. Many outlets like to be pitched through the website itself. Many times there is a "cyber-staff" mailbox where you can submit new releases, etc. Tell them why the story should run in the online venue as opposed to OR in conjunction with the brick and mortar media outlet.


Buy your own bullhorn, so to speak. Have your staff or a hired PR pro compose your campaign and be the exclusive distributor so that the electronic link is a direct one back to you, not some release service. Beware of online/Internet release distribution services that promise to pitch your release/kit to thousands of traditional and online news sources. Keep in mind that to save time and money, many distribution services lump your release with 10, 15 or sometimes 50 other media releases when they make your pitch. Typically, they will burn a copy of your release onto a CD-ROM or other cyber-file and distribute the disks or files either by mail or electronically (as a compacted ZIP file) - eliminating the exclusivity of your pitch. Like you, editors, reporters & producers are always short of time, and may not have time to look through 20 or 30 media releases on a single disk or CD-ROM. If your release is #16 of 20 on the file, they may not even get to yours for a long time -- which really sinks your ship if your pitch is time crucial.

And, as you have heard me warn about in the past, most release distribution services (not all mind you) are "pitch & ditch" services -- which means there is no media follow-ups on the pitch; and no media tracking or clipping of the print articles or TV/radio news segments that may have been generated.

See the FAQ's on my website: http://www.spreadthenewspr.com/services.html#


Although my business is very technologically advanced, I use what I call "technology with personality" in all my campaigns. Each campaign includes:

*    the technology of extensive electronic research of the entire North American media market, but the personality of media contacts in some of the biggest news syndicates and newsrooms in the nation (who have pitched our best stories to affiliate newswires to be picked up by news organizations worldwide);

*    the technology to pitch thousands of media kits per day, but the personality of individually distributed electronic media kits -- to individual editors/reporters/ producers, not just news desks or [email protected] type addresses;

*    the technology of both a print & broadcast clipping service, but the personality of having the editor or producer send us a few FREE copies or tear sheets once it runs.

The crucial key in any publicity campaign, traditional or online, is knowing not only the media market, but also the pitching preferences of the respective editorial staffs -- which can be a time consuming task. Spend the time to generate strong traditional AND cyber-media contacts and capabilities into the new millennium. Here's hoping the year 2001 means a 2001% increase in your personal & professional bottom line.

# # # #

Todd F. Brabender
Spread The News Public Relations, Inc.
Generating publicity & media exposure for innovative
(785) 842-8909
[email protected]


Article # 3:    "Your Market Evaluation," by Bob Stonecypher, Author of "THE IDEA"

In order to sell a product, that product must fill a need. Whether the need is existing, or you create a need depends on your product and marketing program. You must know who your customers are and how to reach and sell them your product. All products have a value, and the value must be cost effective. If your product is over priced, it will not sell, if under priced, you will not meet expenses. What would you pay for your product if someone else were selling it? To be competitive in price, you must know your competitor prices, and the cost of manufacturing and distributing your product. Compare your product and price to similar products presently available. Visit the retailers of these products, take note of the quantity of the items and prices.

How is your invention better than the existing products? Can you improve on the quality for a reasonable price, or can you reduce the price of your product enough to draw customers? Quality will eventually win over price.

The amount of shelf space allowed for a product determines the quantity of sales for three (3) months. If the shelf space will only support a few similar products, there may not be a market for your product, unless you make a substantial improvement. Look at the labels, make a list of all manufacturers, and distributors, and their addresses. They are your potential licensees.

Talk to the sales staff and department managers to learn who the suppliers are, and how to contact them. How many does this store sell per month, and how many stores are in this company? Suppose you equally share the market with your competitors, that would give you an idea of potential quantity of products this company would buy. Pay close attention to how the items are displayed and packaged. If stores in a different chain have different packaging, which displays and packaging sell the most products? Closely imitate (do not copy) the best sellers, or can you improve on the packaging?

Make notes of all the information obtainable. Study your notes. They will tell you how to sell your product. Do not hesitate to tell the sales staff and department managers what you are doing. Ask for the opinions of the sales force and manager. What complaints have they had of existing similar products?

Talk to consumers of currently available products similar to yours. Ask how these products can be improved, and what would they like to see on the market. This is your market, the niche you are looking for. Their opinion is first hand and the most important opinion available, and it's free.

How much will it cost to manufacture your product? A rule of thumb is: the price doubles every time a product changes hands. Example: The retail price of the items is $10.00, that means the retailer paid the wholesaler $5.00. The wholesaler paid the factory $2.50, and the cost to manufacture the item was $1.25. This, of course, is not true for every item sold, but it is a ball park figure for many consumer items. Can your invention be manufactured for 12.5% of the retail price? Will you get it to market by changing hands only two times? How many can you sell? Would starting your own factory be cost effective?

If you have a commercial or industrial product, talk to the factory representatives and suppliers that supply the present items to the commercial and industrial users. You should also talk to the users of similar products, asking the same questions that you did the consumers. How do you know who these suppliers are? Ask the users. Go back to Thomas Register for their names and addresses.

Some reliable sources, that are not cost prohibitive, for a market analysis are: Wisconsin Innovation Service Center, at the University of Wisconsin, cost $495.00. Washington Innovation Assessment, at Washington State University, Small Business Development Center, cost $350.00. Wall-Mart / S.E. Missouri State University, cost $175.00. These centers will do a complete market analysis for your invention. This is probably as complete as any market analysis you will find, and certainly at a lower cost. Add this analysis to your own analysis and you will certainly know if you have a winner.

If you do not want to do the above analysis, you can pay to have it done. Market analysis is a world of its own, and requires much skill to be accurate. If you want your market analyzed, it should be accurate. Unless you are skilled in this art, seek the help of experts.

Salesmanship is just as skilled as any field, if not more so. No product is moved until someone makes a sale. Whether you want to license your patent, or sell your finished product, a salesperson must be involved. Unless you are a super salesperson, you will need the services of one who is, to make your invention reach its potential.

Compile all your notes into a database so they will be easy to read and add this data to your business plan.

# # # #

Bob Stonecypher of Columbus, Ohio, is an inventor and holder of 3 patents. He is past President of the local Inventors' Network. The proudest era of Mr. Stonecypher's life was the role he had with NASA putting men on the moon and returning them safely.

His book, "THE IDEA: A Pocket Guide for Inventors," is an invention booklet written FOR inventors BY an inventor. It's the "How to protect, patent, trademark, copyright, finance, market, sell or manufacture your own invention or idea" book!
It is available for sale at http://www.inventionbook.com


Feel free to forward "The Online Inventor" to your inventor friends and colleagues. If you change your e-mail address, please subscribe with the new address in order to continue receiving it each month. To unsubscribe, please reply with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject line. If you would like to request a topic for an upcoming issue of this newsletter, just send us an e-mail or give us a call. You can view past issues of "The Online Inventor" at http://www.marketlaunchers.com/archives.html. Thanks.

Until next time, Successful Inventing To You!

Best Regards,

Paul Niemann;
President of Market Launchers.com
(800) 337-5758 (within the U.S. and Canada)
(217) 224-7735 (outside the U.S.)

Copyright 2000
All Rights Reserved


Click here to read the November 2000 issue.